The 14-minute documentary short The Cuatro Man tells the story of legendary T&T musician Robert Munro. Twenty-year-old director Mikhail Gibbings is excited about its nomination for best T&T Documentary Short at the T&T Film Festival (TTFF), where the film will premiere onSeptember 17.
Gibbings said The Cuatro Man is intended to be the first in a series of documentaries on musical legends in T&T.
“They generally don’t have as much recorded material as younger musicians would these days. They came from an era where it was much harder to get hold of that sort of stuff, especially instrumentalists like Monroe and people like Clive Zanda and even Stanley Roach.”
His inspiration for the film came from stories he heard about Munro from his father as well as the cuatro and parang communities “who speak of him fondly and he’s known very well, especially by a certain generation of people.
“But Munro has been forgotten in a way that is strange, because he used to play a lot alongside Kitchener—and people like Kitchener have been remembered very fondly and acknowledged in a very public setting, so I found it strange that people weren’t necessarily acknowledging him to the extent that I thought they would.
“This is really the first official release that I’ve had where I’ve been able to capture an audience bigger than a friend and I think it’s for the right cause, too. It is nice to see the film community or in general the Trinidadian community has an interest in seeing something like this regardless of how it was made or who made it.
“I think really the reason it was picked is because the cause is bigger than the production itself, and if anything it’s good that maybe it will start a discussion on those sorts of things.”
He added, “Munro himself was very, very excited to do it; he and his family were very nice to me and let me in the house to film, which happened over the course of four months. There were two other cameramen helping me out while working on their own documentaries so there was a lot of up and down to his house in Port-of-Spain.
“At the end of it I think it turned out well, especially since we worked on a budget of gas money. Really the only reason we were able to do it properly is because of the equipment that we got to borrow from UWI’s Film Department,” Gibbings said.
“At the end of the day, the goal is to archive, which is something that we don’t do a lot with art in T&T. There’s a lot of older, older stuff that is kept but not particularly well. Not a lot of music is stored especially as there are a lot of old records that are decaying in people’s back rooms and falling apart and that music will be lost forever, but I think there’s something to do with especially digital film which allows it to be kept and move on.”
The Cuatro Man screens on the following dates:
September 17, 9 pm, MovieTowne Port-of-Spain [World premiere, Q&A]
September 26, 3.30 pm, MovieTowne Port-of-Spain [Q&A]
September 26, 3 pm, MovieTowne Tobago
September 26, 5 pm, UWI [Q&A]
September 29, 5.30 pm, MovieTowne Tobago
More info: ttfilmfestival.com